For details of our ongoing filmic adventures, check out my main site:

www.Opticalism.com

-jason

That’s right, although we’ve had to resume more stationary lives back at home, we’re delighted that Rodders will continue to live the dream on the great continent with his proud new owner.

Rumour has it that the mysteries of the west coast are a-beckoning…

… to be continued …

Our African adventure is (sadly) coming to an end. We couldn’t have asked for more from our home-on-wheels during the trip from Cape Town to Nairobi, but now its time to find someone else who wants to continue the journey with ‘Rodders.’

All the details for the sale of our expedition ready land cruiser are below. Any enquiries, please contact jas(dot)brooks(at)gmail(dot)com

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Rodders, as he is affectionately known, is a 1995 Toyota Landcruiser, 80 Series GS, 4.2L TD, Manual (UK Registered). Looking to sell as soon as possible, but storage is a possibility if you aren’t starting your trip immediately.

Bought in Cape Town, December 2011. In addition to daily checks, the car has been serviced every 5000km (filters, fluids, lubrication and full check). The car has proven to be very reliable, durable and comfortable. Can provide service record for last 52,000 miles. Currently in Nairobi, Kenya, we have driven from South Africa following mainly tarsealed roads but venturing into game parks and a few 4WD roads on the way.

Basics

• Make: Toyota
• Model: Landcruiser HDJ80 turbo diesel
• CC: 4200
• Gearbox: Manual
• Fuel: Diesel
• Country of Registration: UK
• Year of Registration: 1995
• Mileage (current): 210,000 Miles – 338,000 KM
• Current Location: Nairobi, Kenya
• Ownership: 3rd Owner, Full service history for last 46,000 miles
• Features: 5 Door, Electric Windows, Radio, Central Locking,Immobiliser, Independent Front, Rear and Central Differential Locks, Sunroof
• Price: 10,000GBP ono

Additions
• 3 BF Goodrich AT tyres (2 rear and 1 spare locked to rearundercarriage) and 2 Yokohama AT tyres, all with locking wheel nuts
• Safari Snorkel for cleaner air intake and crossing water
• Custom built 3 core copper radiator with brass tank – fully repairable
• Auxiliary Battery Charge System (Rolls 12V, 115 AH deep-cycle gelacid battery, CTek D250S Dual Charge, and battery monitor)
• 80 watt solar panel in protective roof box, Stecca Solsum 10 ampsolar charge controller
• LED lights & 12V Cigarette Sockets (connected to the AuxiliaryBattery via a 25 point fuse panel in rear)
• 2” Old Man Emu Suspension lift
• 80 Litre Long Range Fuel Tank: Combined carrying capacity of 160Litres, Range of 1300KM fully loaded
• 2 Front Runner double Jerry Can rooftop holders with 4x 20L diesel jerry cans
• APB Roof Rack with spare mounts
• 1.6m Eezi Awn Roof Tent T-top model, with side-walls for a downstairs room
• 2-Drawer storage system in rear

Work Completed / Maintenance Items
• Reconditioned Gearbox (165,000 miles)
• Rebuilt front axle (190,000 miles)

Modifications & Additional Equipment In Rear
• 2-drawer storage system in rear
• 30L IndelB TB31 12/240v refrigerator/freezer Gas Stove (new and unused)
• 2x 20L jerry cans for water
• 2 Vehicle Safes – one floor safe in front and one hidden in the boot
• Window tinting on four doors
• Fully opaque Vinyl on boot section (fantastic for keeping out prying eyes!)
• Set of 2 folding chairs and collapsible table
• 7 x ‘wolf boxes’ for storage of equipment
• 6 kg gas bottle
• 3 burner gas stove
• Cargo net separating boot from back seats

Car / Mechanical
• Basic Toolkit
• Relevant Haynes Manual
• Box of consumable items for the vehicle
• Additional 12V (cigarette lighter) power connecter at rear
• Full complement of genuine Toyota spare parts (see list below)
• Variety of safety equipment – fire extinguisher, safety blanket,safety triangles, etc.
• Steering wheel lock

Recovery Gear
• Hi lift Jack (including base plate and adaptors; fixed jackingpoints on vehicle)
• 2 x 1.5m Sand ladders
• Tow chain
• Spade
• 5T bottle jack
• Compressor (to re-inflate tyres)

Data/Information
• GPS Unit – Garmin with “Tracks for Africa” data
• Mapbooks, guidebooks, etc.
• Full complement of SIM cards for south and east African countries

Emergency / Medical
• First aid kit: syringes, sterile instruments, anaesthetics,antibiotics, bandages, needles etc.

Paperwork
• Currently on a Carnet de Passage valid until Feb. 2013. Buyer willneed to arrange their own Carnet, and return our completed Carnet to the RAC upon leaving Kenya.

Taking a brief (work) break from camping, we spent the last few days staying at the beautiful Ndali Lodge (www.ndalilodge.com). We made our standard offer of a short promotional video in exchange for a place to stay, only in this case it included gourmet meals, luxurious cottage and stunning surrounds…the video should say it all.

We’ve just met the best mechanic of the trip and Rodders is in tip-top shape and ready to meet his new owners (fingers crossed). Tomorrow we head for Kampala before turning northwards to Southern Sudan (security situation permitting). Can’t believe there’s only a month left….

Despite the 18 years that have passed since 1994, the genocide is still the first thing that springs to mind when most foreigners think of Rwanda. Even the Rwanda section of our East Africa guidebook was a strange mix of tourist info and history lesson excerpts with ‘things to do’ sections awkwardly switching from an entry on gorilla tracking to an entry on genocide memorials in local churches. It’s important not to forget, but how to strike the balance between remembering and learning to move on?

During our week in Kigali, we were lucky enough to spend time with a group of young Rwandans who have had to strike this balance most of their lives, and who constantly impressed us with their unquenchable optimism and dedication to making Rwanda a better place. We were invited to make a video for Generation Rwanda, an organisation that gives university scholarships to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to continue their studies. All of them are extremely talented young people, many of whom have lost parents and other family members during the genocide. GR wanted to show their donors just how special their students are, not only for their achievements but also for the challenges they have overcome.

We spent several days with one remarkable young woman, Josiane Isingizwe, who is finishing her final year studying civil engineering while also working part-time for a local NGO and leading or taking part in several other student groups. In getting to know her and her friends, we encountered an energy and enthusiasm that might be expected of the nation’s brightest youth, yet was coupled with a unique maturity and sense of purpose which seems to result from having overcome so much, so young.

For example, several recent graduates and current students have started a group called Acts of Gratitude, which endeavours to support other young Rwandans struggling to finish their secondary school education by providing moral support, tutoring and school supplies. The founding principle of the group is that, having themselves received support to finish their studies, the members feel they have a responsibility to pass this assistance on to others.

It’s both humbling and inspiring to meet such a group of young people, still struggling to get an education themselves, and yet determined to do whatever they can to help others. Josiane was incredibly open and welcoming, helping us to understand her world and working with us to convey that in the video we made about her.

 

As we finished filming, Genocide Memorial Week was starting in Rwanda. We had been told the country would be understandably quiet during this time of remembering and reflection, and we were a little apprehensive about being in Rwanda during this period. However, after our time in Kigali and meeting the GR students, the week of reflection had more context. Things are not perfect in Rwanda, but the country is clearly moving on. No one has forgotten what happened, but  the youth we met have enormous hope for the future.

We were introduced to Khama Rhino Sanctuary by Jo Young (courtesy of our friend Brenda Foulds), who visited Botswana last year. They responded positively to our email asking if they might be interested in having a promotional video made. Lack of internet and phone connectivity made communication sparse after our initial contact, meaning that we arrived one evening at dusk, largely unannounced, 600km from our 48hr emergency bush-mechanic stopover in the Delta.

After an initially tentative conversation with the receptionist, we were told to meet the Hospitality Manager Modo at the bar and headed into the inviting sunset glow of the park. We found Modo relaxing by the pool with O.P. (Chief Warden), who once reassured that we weren’t poachers (or spying for them!) welcomed us to stay for as long as was needed to complete the video.

We set out at five the next morning to capture some dawn images and promptly began tracking rhinos in the bush (the opening shot from the video features a group of four sleeping rhinos, with one having just been woken by our approach). At our meeting the previous evening, it felt very much like we were offered free reign of the park, and no one mentioned that guests are discouraged from leaving their vehicles whilst on safari. Only in a later conversation with O.P. did we realise that we were definitely treading on thin ice on our dawn shoot, as rhino temperaments vary widely and some could well have been aggressively unappreciative of an early morning wake up call!

The following five days passed like a dream. The sanctuary is basically heaving with beautiful and impressive wildlife, perhaps even ever-so-slightly overstocked! There was a special board meeting during our stay to discuss fencing tenders to double the park’s 4,300 hectare area. The staff are incredibly friendly and relaxed, with a sense of unity and shared purpose that seems related to it’s status as a community initiated, managed, staffed and benefitting organisation.

We spent the dawn and dusk hours patrolling the pans for the lushest footage, and the rest of the day’s either in the ‘bird’ hide (a perfect location 10 meters from a tiny watering hole where we twice saw a mother Rhino with her 2-week-old toddling baby), or shooting interviews and details of the park’s facilities. We were also taken on an incredible night-drive replete with exciting search-lit encounters (check the video for details!).

I (Jason) did have one particularly close encounter with ‘Noddy’ one of the park’s four black rhinos (more ‘fight’ than the relatively ‘flighty’ white rhinos), who was brought to the park as a young orphan and so nursed by humans. We first met when he visited the restaurant pool (apparently his preferred afternoon watering hole), and the staff explained that he was ‘tame’, and encouraged us to approach. Initially I maintained a relative distance of 15 meters, but after some other tourists posed even closer for photos and he completely ignored them, I decided it was time to grab the otherwise-elusive facial closeup. I slowly walked to about 5 meters away, and then crouched behind my tripod and began rolling. He almost immediately turned to face me and approach step by step, which left me frozen with fear at being in a 5, 4, and finally 3m face-off from a 1.8 tonne horned beast! At 3m range, it suddenly struck me that I had no desire to test how ‘tame’ he really was, and took of sprinting towards the restaurant, but as he saw me move he couldn’t resist a deep guttural grunt and a few charging side-steps to really get my adrenaline pumping.

We ended up making two versions of the video, one a multi-purpose promo with a voiceover read by one of the park’s most charismatic rangers, Bogolo – and the other a text and music driven equivalent to be played on loop at a tourism conference in South Africa next month (where the park bids to be included on various agency-operated tours). Hopefully both videos will help the park to continue and expand it’s exemplary work as the meeting-place of rhino-conservancy and local community engagement. Although the videos focused on the aspects of the park that are of most interest to tourists, one of the primary goals of the park is to educate people, especially the youth of Botswana, about the Rhino and the unique ecosystem they live in. We stayed in the teacher’s dormitory at the education centre where groups of school children come to learn about the flora and fauna first-hand. Tracking rhinos sounds like a pretty amazing field-trip to me!!

Keep an eye out for our next post featuring Victoria Falls and our Whitewater rafting adventures…

So – internet connectivity seems to be a much more scarce resource in Africa than we had at first imagined!

We’ve decided to abandon any hopes of chronology for the blog, and instead give you whatever insights we can as and when they are ripe. So here’s a video we recently completed for the Okavango Poler’s Trust near the small town of Seronga in Northwestern Botswana. It was a roughly 12 hour round trip to reach Seronga, but we were intrigued by reading about the cooperatively-run Makoro Poler’s trust (think Venitian gondola, Botswanan-style), and when we suggested the idea of our making a promotional video for them, they jumped at the idea!

Anyhow, time runs short, and we’re already half an hour past the official closing time of this internet cafe (cowering in the corner hoping that the owner doesn’t notice we’re still here!) and so I’ll let the images do the talking. Suffice to say that we spent a truly mesmerising two days out on the delta!

More to come soon, from Khama Rhino Sanctuary in South Botswana, where we have just today finished making our second promo video. We plan to cross into Zimbabwe tomorrow, and will be connecting again from Bulawayo.

Big love,

Jason and Page

Cape Town is definitely not London…but not quite Africa. Camps Bay has more of a California vibe, and the architecture feels more like Europe. Still, leaving dreary winter behind for summer sun was a welcome change and we found ourselves more than comfortably accommodated at Tim & Tina’s lovely home in Wynberg (complete with two felines to entertain and cuddle…BIG THANKS!!).

Our luck continued when we stumbled upon the Two Turkeys’ post advertising ‘Rodders’, a beast of a Land Cruiser that just completed a year-long drive from London to Cape Town and was looking for new owners. Fully kitted out with everything from a leisure battery and heavy duty shocks to a rooftop tent and drawer storage (not to mention the comfy folding chairs, GPS, Kelly kettle & other extras), Rodders looked like the perfect home for the next five months.

The big purchase out of the way (gulp!), we kept the rest of our planning thoroughly African, changing almost everything at least once along the way. Fortunately, South Africa has an obsession with 4×4 ‘camping’ and a few short hours at Outdoor Warehouse gave us plenty of ideas for how to prepare…and spend our money. Water jugs, storage boxes, gas cooker, med kit, solar panel, 12v refrigerator…the list goes on. Not finding quite everything we wanted, we’ve had a bit of DIY as well, building a folding table and a wooden box for the solar panel. A couple test runs (taking in Hermanus, Hottentots, & Mossel Bay), several shopping trips, lots of research and a few weeks later we were ready to go.

Unfortunately, Rodders was looking for a little more rest before heading back north. Luckily his timing was impeccable, blowing out the radiator right in front of the mechanic’s where we were having some bodywork done. Equipped with a custom made copper radiator a few days later, we welcomed Tim & Tina back home and packed up for the first time.

Fully loaded, we figured it was time to get the slow leak in one of the tires fixed, only to discover Rodders needed a pair of new tires before heading into the bush.

Exactly one month after arriving in Cape Town, we were finally ready to head north. Excited to be on the road, we’ve done some serious miles since then, taking in the Cederberg mountains, Augrabies falls, Sossusvlei dunes and Naukluft mountains along the way. More photos, film and stories to follow soon on all the fun thus far! Here’s a little taste of the madness…

 

 

Jackass Penguins at Simonstown. Sunset on the beach at Scarborough. Nicest Christmas day we can remember… Here’s a map of our route for this video

Hi folks,

Just a quick note to say we arrived as planned this morning (despite our 1st leg from Heathrow-Frankfurt being delayed, so missing our original 2nd leg, and just scraping into a fully booked replacement flight direct to Cape Town – and Jason still managed to blag an exit row seat!!!).

We’ve since settled in to our temporary house in Cape Town. Really nice spot here in what seems like a very characterful and fun city. Pretty unbelievable to have been out for a delicious seafood dinner this evening, sat on the balcony and watched the sun set, wearing T-shirt and shorts only ten days before Christmas!

Big love to you all,

Jason and Page

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